Getting Better in Bits & Pieces

My friend has a giant jigsaw puzzle on her table, it’s been there for weeks. To me it just looks like thousands of blue pieces, it makes my head hurt to just think about trying to put it together. Over the last few weeks I’ve seen various family members potter about it, making wee piles of the different shades of blue, creating the frame and slowly it’s formed into a whole picture. Turns out there was a tiger in the middle, who knew.

According to the Dr I have chronic fatigue. According to the pain clinic I have wide spread hyperalglesia. According to my husband I just need to do more housework. To be honest it’s all meaningless, I just want to be better.

Anyone who has suffered from an illness that nobody really understands will know how frustrating it can be to get any kind of input that’s helpful for recovery. How do you get better from something that no one really knows anything about? I’ve been  batted in and out of Dr and hospital rooms for the last three years and come out time and time again none the wiser. Tell me what to do someone!

So what do you do when you’ve exhausted all the main stream medical solutions? You have to step off the path a bit. So I’ve tried a few alternative therapies. Acupuncture mainly, did help a bit but the best practitioner is back in Falkirk and too far away. And then somehow I stumbled across a woman who specialised in working with people with chronic fatigue. Not only that but she’d been there,  she’d been sick and she was now better. This was very exciting to me and I immediately got in touch.

Angela Rocchio is a coach. How American of me! I’ll admit I was a bit apprehensive about the whole thing but really there was no need. Angela was incredibly easy to talk to and the best thing was that she, unlike 99% of the others professionals I’ve spoken to) completely understood where I was coming from. After three years of feeling that I can’t really talk about my symptoms for fear of a) annoying people b) not being believed it was such a relief to  be able to lay it all out on the table. Chronic illness is shit just incase you’re wondering.

I’ve spent six sessions now with Angela, they’ve been like lovely long baths. I’ve felt properly listened to and of course she’s given me a ton of practical tips and strategies for dealing with my health. More than anything else though she has given me a way of thinking about my life and health that’s incredibly helpful. She asked beautiful questions, which is a real skill. Mainly how can this be lighter, have more ease? Looking at my life with that question at the heart showed up a whole load of stressy crap that I was putting myself through for pretty much no reason at all. From a technical point of view I now have a better understanding of how the nervous system actually works, how the body can’t actually heal unless we are able to find places of deep rest.

It’s led to a lot of little shifts. Little pieces of change, things I’ve resisted like taking a nap during the day (despite feeling like it’s such a massive waste of time), making sure I have time to do some yoga each day, eating as well as I can, always checking in – what do I need right now? How can this be lighter?

Did it cure me? Nope. Still on that road. But I am on the road. I’ve done things I didn’t think I could. A week in France, six hours a day doing physical theatre work. I was so sure I wouldn’t get through that week, I did. Two weeks in Leeds working from 9am -9pm making theatre. Interestingly I felt better in both those places, especially in France, than I often do at home. Yesterday I did a Pilates class – whoo hooo you might think, but I haven’t managed a gym session for three years without suffering big consequences. I had to go to bed that afternoon but no massive flair up. It makes me feel hopeful that I might just climb out of this place, that maybe I’ll shake that damn pain of at last. Working with Angela has given me a frame for my puzzle, now I can start filling in the other pieces, maybe even find a tiger in the middle.

This stuff won’t be relevant to a lot of people, good, I hope it never is. But perhaps it is relevant, or perhaps one day it might be. So I am putting it out there. Angela is the real deal, a properly lovely person who really knows her stuff. If you are on my road then take a look, she’s pretty nifty with the maps.

In other news, it’s been lots of youth theatre work as ever, getting ready for London  next week where I will be doing some workshops with the National Theatre. I had my fastest ever rejection (two days!) and managed to write most days. I’ve realised I’m not bad at getting the bones of something down but I am really bad at editing stuff. Something I need to learn somehow. I was accepted onto a skills share scheme with Conflux where I will meet over the year with other Scottish artists to share good practice, get mentored and possibly even make work. I am in my usual excited/ah but everyone will be brilliant and I will be shit place about that. It’s all good though, it’s all good. More bits of the puzzle I hope, more chance of seeing the picture in the middle. If only I had the damn box, it would all be a lot easier. Happy Sunday, happy jigsaw making.



3 thoughts on “Getting Better in Bits & Pieces

  1. Hi Steph!

    So pleased things are looking up for you. Angela sounds like an amazing coach, thanks for sharing the link as there is someone I’m now thinking of recommending her to… I hope that the pieces of positive change help with your ‘puzzle’, and well done on the pilates class! I know from when we spoke a while back that a class is a massive achievement 🙂 x

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